Variant: The Setting Sun

If you only listen to one album of ambient dub techno this year, you could do a lot worse than to check out the latest from Deepchord's Steve Hitchell.


The Setting Sun

Label: Echospace
US Release Date: 2009-08-18
UK Release Date: 2009-08-18

Ambient dub techno is not exactly the most varied field to work in or try and listen to. As with certain rarified subspecies of heavy metal, it's the kind of music that tends to sound identical to outsiders until and unless they spend some serious time listening to it, and even if they find the deep pulse of the music pleasant, it's not shocking that a lot of people don't want to bother. Steve Hitchell's newest LP as Variant is a clear example of the good stuff.

Hitchell's a busy man, especially since Rod Modell's Echospace label has had a resurgence (at least partially based around Hitchell and Modell's work, especially Deepchord presents Echospace's The Coldest Season from 2007), and keeping track of his pseudonyms alone takes some doing. That's him as Intrusion contributing a whole disc of remixes to the excellent new Brock Van Wey album, and while those remixes were a bit underwhelming (mostly just because Van Wey's work on White Clouds Drift On and On ranks among the finest ambient music), with The Setting Sun Hitchell proves again just how good he is at this stuff. The music Echospace releases comes with a shockingly high average of quality (intrigued newcomers to ambient techno wouldn't be ill served by checking out Pole, Gas and then anything on this label), it can sometimes get a little monochromatic even for the genre. Seeing as how Echospace is extremely choosey about who they release music by, that's to be expected, but Variant here offers up something that's just as richly dubbed out as anything else on label even as it's just slightly more colourful and varied. In a genre that's all about minute shifts and subtleties that makes all the difference, and The Setting Sun is an enveloping, aurally rewarding album.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.